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The Word Guy / Knowledge

Of 'the' I Sing

Q: Why is Ukraine sometimes called "the Ukraine"? -- Deb Carter, Felton, California

A: This is a timely and relevant question, loaded with geopolitical implications. And it raises a far more serious issue: why we sometimes call Donald Trump "...

Should We Topple This 'Regime'?

Three readers have sent me questions about three different sentences:

--Sandy Duffy of Princeton, New Jersey, is curious about the use of "regime" in this sentence: "He subscribes to a healthy regime of fruits and vegetables." Sandy asks, "...

Summer Reading for Word Lovers

Whether you're heading for hostels, highways or hammocks this summer, curl up with one of these new books about words.

In "Authorisms: Words Wrought by Writers" ($18), veteran lexicographer Paul Dickson tells the fascinating backstories of ...

Welcome to the 'Twilight' Zone

"Twilight." Where in the world did it come from?

No, not the teen movie series -- the word.

Although we usually use "twilight" in reference to dusk, it can also refer to the dim light at dawn. And that provides a clue to its origin.

The Old ...

I.O.U. an Explanation of I.E.

Q: One linguistic usage that always throws me for a loop is whether to use "i.e." or "e.g." to cite an example or examples. Would you mind clarifying the rules around this? -- Debbie via email

A: I'll be glad to, i.e., I'll explain.

The ...

For Whom the 'Tell' Tolls

While grading a student's paper the other day, I came across this sentence: "The cost of the U.S. Interstate Highway System was $128.9 billion, all tolled."

Gosh, I hope not. If that's true, my drive down I-84 to New York City is going to be bit ...